My old mucker Shaun Milne tagged me on his blog to take part in some kind of online experiment called a meme – from what I can gather this is a new media version of pyramid selling, except you don’t have to part with any money.
Since it came to Shaun from new media guru Neil McIntosh, I am taking it pretty seriously.
The subject is My Week in the Media and I wonder if this experiment got its name because I get to talk all about me ?.
As , ahem, a serious and responsible member of the online community, I want to play my part, so here goes:
WHAT I’VE READ
In the past week I’ve read the end of A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory. My favourit genre is crime fiction, though not the usual murder mysteries or old pot boilers – and virtually never any predictable tosh about serial killers. Eeurgh. Rather, I prefer gritty social commentary that asks subtle questions about morality and the mores of society; that refuses to accept black and white models of good and evil. If that comes wrapped in the goregous, descriptive prose of James Lee Burke, the stacatto, frenzied stream-of-consciousness of James Ellroy or the spare, stylised street observations of George Pelecanos or Walter Mosley, then so much the better.
Of course, most of those I’ve just namechecked are unapologetically American. I was most surprised to learn that R.J.Ellory – despite his William Faulkner leanings – is Brit to the core. Still living in Birmingham, as it happens. So I was singularly impressed with the way he seemed to effortlessly encapsulate the feeling of hick Americana from the 40s and 50s. I enjoyed the writing – even though it turned out to be a serial killer book.
Also this week I read Christine Falls by Booker prize winning author John Banville, writing as Benjamin Black. I found it unrelentingly annoying that he seemed determined to tick every single cliche with his cantankerous, chain-smoking, borderline alcoholic, unlucky in love, cyncical and world weary, subterranean-dwelling pathologist and his wearily dysfunctional friends, adversarises and family. I also found the relentless cartoon-Irish characterisastions tiresome. No wonder he wrote it under an assumed name – he must be mortified that people found out who he really is and he’s now sullied his high-brow reputation with this guff.
Finally, I made a start on Rabbit, Run by John Updike. You can’t argue with the writing and I can see why its a modern American Classic. Sometimes, though, it can be hard going reading about the dreary minutiae of mundane every day life, no matter how sparkling, skilled and slyly observed it may be. So the going has been slow, but there’s plenty of time for it to liven up yet.
Other than that I’ve read Scotland on Sunday Review section; enjoyed the guitly pleasure of a leisurely flick through Now magazine (the desperate baby-making machinatons of the Beckhams and the Cruises); a detailed instruction manual on how to properly fasten a waterproof and breathable membrane on a Scottish sarked roof; and the latest issue of Q magazine.
WHAT I’VE WATCHED.
This one’s easy, as there’s only one show in the Douglas household at the moment – season three of The Wire on DVD boxset. Simply brilliant. I’m rationing myself to just one episode per night – since I won’t be able to get hold of Season 4 on DVD for a couple of months, when it is released in the UK. Mind you, that very nice young man Craig McGill over at the Cluttered Desk has suggested he might be able to help out before then…
WHAT I’VE LISTENED TO
I got my bike out of cold storage and took it for a ride for the first time in several years. However, I couldn’t find my padded cycling shorts, so after two hours the saddle felt razor-esque. A selection of mixed 90s and naughties music (with a definite leaning towards guitar driven UK indy) helped keep my mind off the pain during the ride, particularly the final, unbelievably bumpy, few miles.
In the car I’ve spent the past few months listening almost exclusively to BBC Radio 5 Live – and this past week was no exception. I have developed a totally unexpected admiration for Nicky Campbell. I used to think he was a smug, self-satisfied choob – but maybe that’s just on TV. He still looks a bit smarmy in his pic, which I’ve included at the top of the page, but I don’t want to hold that against him anymore, because I really like him on the breakfast show.
However, my current radio hero is 5 Live Drivetime presenter, the gleefully glum Peter Allen (pictured). Again, I’ve surprised myself with this because he’s got the kind of nasally voice that once would have annoyed the hell out of me. However he’s so quick, dry and sounds utterly doubtful of everything he’s told, without ever quite veering into the sneering territory of Paxman. Marvellous.
Alan Green on sport on John Pienaar on politics are the other standouts for me – but across the board the 5 Live crowd tick the boxes for me. I even find myself enjoying the cricket coverage these days for chrissakes!
When I can’t be bothered with the radio I’m currently rotating Amy Winehouse (Back to Black), Johnny Cash (American IV: The Man Comes Arounc) and The Fratellis (Costello Music).
WHAT I’VE SURFED
Daily – all the Scottish media blogs in my own blogroll. The BBC, The Scotsman, Allmediascotland.com.
I had an extensive trawl through the website of a property-related company which is considering taking on PR support and I spent a good deal of time yesterday and today on the websit of our client, Eagle Couriers.
I see a lot of the CBeebies website – any chance my daughter gets, she’s on it. And, of course, I spend a considerable amount of time randomly hopping around wordpress.com.